James Cameron is one of the biggest names in movies. Over his 42-year career, he has been behind the camera for a number of the most popular, well-made, box-office bonanza-making films in the history of movies. But when you actually break down his career as a director, Cameron has, believe it or not, directed a mere 11 films. Two of those films were documentaries and one was his very first project, a short film he co-directed. So, we are going to take a look at the other eight films Cameron directed and with the help of our world-famous Giant Freakin Movie Score algorithm, we are going to scientifically rate his movies from best to worst.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 9.0/10
James Cameron’s top three movies could go in any order, depending on preference. His top two, per the Giant Freakin Robot scoring system, came out with the same exact score. So, flip a coin for your favorite! Aliens is at the top on the list. This sequel to the 1979 Ridley Scott sci-fi/horror hit Alien brought our hero Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) back for another go at those face-hugging Xenomorphs.
Cameron took what Scott did in the original and upped the scares, gore, suspense, and humor factor ten-fold. The cast included Michael Biehn as Hicks, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, and in many scene-stealing shots, Bill Paxton as Hudson. The movie had it all and behind Cameron’s deft directing, Aliens is considered one of the best sequels ever made. If you haven’t seen it, and we have no idea why you wouldn’t have, check it out. You will not be disappointed.
THE TERMINATOR (1984)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 9.0/10
When The Terminator arrived from the future in 1984, both its director, James Cameron, and star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, were pretty much unknowns. But Cameron immediately made a name for himself upon the movie’s release. For those of you who do not know the premise of the movie, the story tells of an assassin cyborg or Terminator, who returns from the future to kill a woman, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who will eventually have a child that will be the savior to stop the machines from taking over in the future.
Schwarzenegger is the killing machine and is opposed by another warrior sent from the future, Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn), who is on hand to protect Sarah from the Terminator. This movie could easily be considered Cameron’s best and is by many.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.9/10
This is the third movie of James Cameron’s that could be considered his best. It would be hard to argue that point, though somehow it arrives at number three based on our Giant Freakin Robot algorithm. This time Cameron brings Arnie back to hunt down a growing John Connor, who is a teenager in this one. But Arnie is hunting him for a different reason.
This time he is taking Kyle Reese’s place in trying to protect John Connor from another Terminator, a T-1000 model played by Robert Patrick. The T-1000 is extremely badass and relentless. Linda Hamilton is also back as Sarah Connor. Cameron was able to use more advanced special effects in this one which added to the greatness of the movie. The rapport between Schwarzenegger’s stiff protecting Terminator and John Connor, played by then-newcomer Edward Furlong, added to the humor of the movie but it was the all-out action that captured the imagination.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.35/10
The question is simple. Why? As in why Rose, why didn’t you make room for Jack on that door? It’s pretty much been the one thing that has never been given a satisfactory answer in one of James Cameron’s most popular movies of all time. With Titanic, James Cameron scratched an itch he’d had for some time: exploring the Titanic. He built a wonderfully romantic, tragic, and ultimately heartbreaking story around stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet that told the story of the Titanic and those who perished as well as those who survived the tragedy.
James Cameron’s movie was nominated for 14 Oscars and ended up winning 11, which ended up tying Ben-Hur for most Oscars won by a single film. As for why Rose didn’t share the door, Cameron finally gave his answer, as unpopular as it was. He told Vanity Fair, “The answer is very simple because it says on page 147 [of the script] that Jack dies,” the director said. “Very simple.” Well, to you it’s very simple.
THE ABYSS (1989)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.2/10
This was James Cameron’s first venture filming underwater and he did so effectively with The Abyss. The movie starred Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and once again, a Cameron stalwart, Michael Biehn. The story finds an American submarine that has sunk in the Caribbean. The crew of an oil rig and the U.S. Navy have to race to reach the sub before the Soviets can.
As the rescue mission continues with its many failures, they hone in on the sub’s location. During one attempt, Mastrantonio’s Lindsey Brigman has an encounter with what she calls “non-terrestrial intelligence.” Simply put, she discovers aliens underwater. Harris’s Bud attempts one final rescue by using a liquid breathing suit, but he runs into trouble and the non-terrestrial aliens decide to save him. While The Abyss was critically a hit, it was less popular with viewers (though still well-received), leaving a sort of “meh” taste.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.0/10
Speaking of “meh” taste, that could sum up James Cameron’s Avatar. While being visually compelling, what seemed to be the hang-up for many was the story. When Avatar first premiered, it premiered to record-setting numbers. In fact, to date, Avatar holds the second-highest box office gross of all time. So, it can’t be all that bad. But while the movie has obviously brought in big numbers, it seems the more viewers think about it, the more “meh” they get.
Be that as it may, Avatar is set in the mid-22nd century and humans are trying to colonize Pandora, a lush planet, in order to mine the mineral unobtanium. As the human’s mine, their expansion begins to threaten the existence of the Na’vi. The battle for the planet begins. The movie stars Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Giovanni Ribisi.
TRUE LIES (1994)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.15/10
James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up again for True Lies, an action-comedy that also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, and Charlton Heston. Harry Tasker is a man who lives a double life. In one, he is a mild-mannered computer salesman and in the other, he is a secret agent for the U.S. Intelligence Agency Omega Sector.
Tasker’s dual identities come together when he thinks his wife is having an affair because she is seeking more adventure in her life, while at the same time he is on the trail of terrorists who have stolen nuclear weapons. James Cameron smartly mixes humor with action and adventure with a lot of Jamie Lee Curtis sex appeal with wonderful results.
PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING (1981)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 2.15/10
James Cameron would probably want all to forget he was part of this movie. It was a sequel to the 1978 Joe Dante gore-fest Piranha but missed on just about every note. For years Cameron has tried to deny its existence until he finally acknowledged the fact that it was his true first directorial job.
The story pretty much tells about a mutant strain of piranha’s who live inside a sunken ship off a Caribbean Island and who make a meal out of anyone swimming nearby. Easy, peasy, and super cheesy, when watching it you can see why James Cameron wanted to distance himself from it.
SO, WHERE ARE THOSE SEQUELS?
For James Cameron these days, it’s all about Avatar and the many, many sequels he’s announced. But the movies have been marred in delay after delay, though according to Cameron, he doesn’t call them delays. “I wouldn’t call them delays. It was highly optimistic that we could start quickly until scripts are written. If there’s no scripts, there’s nothing, right? The scripts took four years.”
At the moment, James Cameron has finished shooting Avatar 2 and presumably Avatar 3, since they are filming back-to-back, and he will then cross his fingers. He has two more sequels in the pipeline, providing 2 and 3 hit it big. “Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5,” Cameron again told Vanity Fair. Well, how about just getting fans Avatar 2 first? They have been patiently waiting.
The GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE is calculated using rating averages from Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database.